I'll bet you thought this blog was dead. Nope, not yet. It's dying, true, but it's dying reeeeally slowly. I don't think I'll stop posting entirely for another 15 years or so. Anyways, back to the HOF articles, because like I said before, it's the most wonderful time of the year for bad sportswriting. Apparently Dan saw what Murray did and was like "Fuck that, he's barely even trying. I can top that in half the word count."
More than a quarter of a century after getting my first ballot,
And around 24 years after I should have stopped getting one,
the Hall of Fame selection progress just keeps getting more challenging.
Each year I say to myself, "How antagonize people who actually use their brains even more than I antagonized them last year?"
Wednesday my ballot will be mailed with boxes checked next to the names of Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, John Smoltz, Curt Schilling, Tim Raines, and Alan Trammell.
Big ups to him for voting for Raines and Trammell. Big downs to him for everything else in this article or that he's ever done since entering the workforce.
This means I am not voting for (among others on the ballot), Craig Biggio, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, Mike Mussina, Larry Walker, Lee Smith, Carlos Delgado, and Nomar Garciaparra. Oh, and I also am not voting for Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Gary Sheffield, Mike Piazza, and Jeff Bagwell.
To be fair about one of my earlier jokes, if he were trying to be even more worthless than Chass in half the words, obviously he wouldn't have bothered to write those sentences.
Six votes. I think it’s a personal high.
OHHHHHH GOOD FOR YOU YOU FUCKING DICKHEAD
Yikes. Imagine going into a seven-game series with a roster of the guys I’m not voting for: Piazza behind the plate. An infield of McGwire, Biggio, Nomar, and Bagwell. An outfield of Bonds, Sosa, and Sheffield. Edgar at DH. Clemens on the mound. Lee Smith in the bullpen. Mussina ready to pitch Game 2. Who wouldn’t take their chances with that team against any team?
Where are you going? Are you lost? Do you need help? Did you actually attend college and take any courses in writing or critical thinking?
So let it rip. Bring on the hate.
Yeah, I mean, we can't rule out the idea that this is merely a troll act designed to increase pageviews. (If that is the case, I sincerely hope he put at least Biggio and Mussina on his ballot, if not some of the other deserving guys from his obviously "not steroid users" list above.)
Bring on the humiliation.
Oh, it's here.
Bring on the blogboy outrage.
Needs more reference to basements and virginity.
Bring on the analytic arrogance.
"Bring on the people that use numbers to make arguments about how good people were at a quantifiable activity."
Bring on the PED Hall Pass.
Hall of SHAME if you ask me.
It’s a tradition like no other.
Yes, the Masters Tournament certainly is.
Voting for the Hall is a great privilege. It’s the most important function of the vast lodge
known as the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Some newspapers don’t allow their writers to vote.
I have no idea what those papers' logic for that regulation might be, but no matter how misguided, they're probably doing baseball fans everywhere a favor.
Thankfully, the Globe still lets us participate. Still, it has become almost impossible to be consistent with this ballot.
Yeah, if you're a fucking idiot, I agree that it might be hard to apply a consistent standard to guys who all played the exact same game under substantially the exact same rules over time.
Voters in this election are baseball writers who were on the beat for at least 10 consecutive seasons. There are approximately 570 voters.
HOLY SHIT WE KNOW. THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOUR COLUMN. STOP LISTING FACTS FROM THE BBWA WEBSITE AND GET TO EXPRESSING YOUR OPINION ALREADY.
We are allowed to vote for no more than 10 players.
Or six, as the case may be.
Players are not eligible until five years after they retire. A candidate must be selected on three-quarters (75 percent) of all votes cast to walk into Cooperstown next July.
In my view, Pedro, Johnson, Smoltz and Biggio will be announced as new Hall members on Jan. 6.
Which is exactly why he CAN'T vote for Biggio.
None will be unanimous. No one has ever been a unanimous selection. You cannot get 570 baseball writers to agree that the earth is round.
Because at least twenty of them legitimately don't understand that fact. IF IT'S ROUND WHY DON'T WE FALL OFF OF IT?????
Since no one has been elected unanimously, some voters withhold to keep that stupid record intact.
If you're wondering whether he'll explain why he's not voting for Biggio, don't worry, he will, and it's awesome.
Brother Bob Ryan addressed this thinking nicely in a Nov. 30 Globe column. Look it up.
So don’t expect Pedro to be unanimous.
WHAT? FACK YOU! FACK THE YANKEES! GO PATS!
His win total of 219 (accompanied by a mere 100 losses) will put off some voters, but Pedro (three Cy Young awards) should come in well north of 90 percent. Johnson is a 300-game winner (always Hall-worthy, unless you cheated), won five Cy Youngs, and ranks second lifetime in strikeouts (behind Nolan Ryan). Johnson is a lock. Smoltz gets in because he’s the only pitcher with 200 wins (213) and 150 saves (154) and he went 15-4 in the postseason.
Totally fair. Of course Mussina's 270 wins, a 123 ERA+ and 83 WAR (one fewer than Pedro, and more than Ryan or Tom Glavine) gets left out, but he'll cover that with spectacular idiocy below.
Biggio missed by only two votes last year. He has 3,000 hits, four gold gloves, and almost 300 homers. I would put him in the Hall of Very Good (only one 200-hit season),
That's great. Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron? Three 200 hit seasons a piece. I guess those two extra seasons where they exceeded a totally unimportant threshold that Biggio only exceeded once are the difference between being among the best ever and being in the Hall of Very Good. On the other hand, Beantown legend Carl Yastrzemski NEVER had a 200 hit season. Neither did Eddie Mathews or the greatest leadoff hitter of all time, Rickey Henderson. REVOKE THEIR ADMISSION, BWAA. HAVE YOU NO SHAME?
but that won’t matter. He’s going in. This year.
In spite. Of my assholish. Refusal to vote for him.
Raines and Trammell are problematic and I am guilty of inconsistency with their candidacies.
That's OK, Dan. Even Mother Teresa wasn't perfect.
Raines was a rare combination of power (170 homers) and speed (808 steals). He had six 100-run seasons. Trammell is going to be off the ballot soon, and won’t make the Hall with the BBWAA, but there’s lots of value in a shortstop who hit .300 seven times, won four Gold Gloves, and should have been MVP (he lost to George Bell) in 1987.
Bringing up the MVP reminds me of that great post the other FJM did about Colin Cowherd yelling that anyone who won that award even once should be in the hall.
Schilling also is borderline. He won 216 games compared with 270 for Mussina. But Schill gets this vote because he went 11-2 in the postseason and was one of the great strike machines in baseball history. Who would you want on the mound in a big game — Mussina or Schill?
I know, right? You can't vote for both. It's not allowed. Meanwhile, to answer that question, I dug around and found this one time that they opposed each other as starting pitchers. Who would you have wanted on the mound in that game? I have no clue what happened in their other matchups (if other matchups exist), but I think this one game sample answers the question for me.
The Roids Boys are the greatest burden on voters.
Oh, woe is you! Such a burden! Keep pushing that rock up that hill, Sisyphus!
Some voters don’t care. Some cherry-pick the cheaters.
You mean like if they wanted to vote for Bonds, because he was one of the best ever, but not for Sosa, because he really wasn't all that great? How dare they!
Some turn away from anything that even looks dirty.
Like you, by designating Bagwell and Piazza as cheaters!
Withholding votes for guys who cheated and guys who look like they cheated is unfortunate, sometimes unfair, and almost impossible to impose consistently.
This is correct. He has walked to the door of logic that has awareness and enlightenment on the other side. All he has to do to pass through is realize that since it's so hard to impose this kind of thing consistently, maybe you should just vote for the guys who have HOF numbers and not vote for the guys who don't. Unfortunately, he can't find the knob.
Objection to the Roids Boys is gradually eroding. As years pass and new voters replace older voters, it is likely there will be increased leniency. Each year there are more voters who don’t care about PEDs. The thinking becomes, “This was the era. They were all doing it.’’ Or, “Bonds and Clemens were already Hall of Famers before they started cheating.’’
The first one of those two justifications is flippant and not a great way to go about making voting decisions (although is also a truism that shouldn't be ignored). The second one of those two justifications is a perfectly good way to go about making voting decisions, and it would be great if mouth breathers like Dan used it.
Sorry, I am not there. No votes for guys caught using.
Fine, but Bagwell and Piazza--
And worse — no votes for guys who just don’t look right. Bagwell and Piazza are the two players most penalized for this arbitrary crime. By any statistical measurement, Bagwell and Piazza are first-ballot Hall of Famers, yet their vote totals (62 percent for Piazza last year, 54 percent for Bagwell) remain considerably lower than their résumés merit.
Thanks to shiteaters like you.
This was a lot more fun when it was just Trammell vs. Biggio, Schilling vs. Mussina, or Jim Kaat vs. Don Drysdale. When it was about baseball.
Yeah! Who in the world ever decided to make it about something other than baseball???? Could it be... the moralizing chodes in the BWAA? Why yes, I think that might be correct!
At this point in writing this article, I guess he realized that some kids were playing on his lawn, so he decided to wrap it up rather abruptly.
Happily, none of the bad stuff ever touched Pedro. Long after the votes are counted and the arguments subside, Cooperstown in July is going to be a Boston baseball party.
And there you go. That's the only conclusion you get, dedicated Shaughnessy readers. I'm glad we settled the whole steroid user/suspected steroid user debate though. That was fun.
Six votes! A personal record! Good for Dan.
Monday, December 29, 2014
Thursday, December 11, 2014
Mike Mussina spent each of his 18 seasons in the most treacherous waters pitchers have ever faced, among the whitecaps of what will always be remembered as an era of rampant steroid use -- and in the offense-rich American League East, no less. He was a fly ball pitcher who called two homer-happy ballparks -- Camden Yards and Yankee Stadium -- his home during his career.
It’s as if he navigated his way daily through one of those monstrous marble-hard golf courses in Scotland covered with bunkers that have names (such as St. Andrews' Road Hole Bunker), as compared to the Executive Par-3s of 2014. In 2000, Mussina’s last season with the Orioles, 47 hitters mashed 30 or more homers; in 2014, only 11 batters reached 30 homers.
Mussina finished his career with a 3.68 ERA and is 19th all time in strikeouts. He also is 24th in WAR among pitchers, and most of the guys ahead of him on the list are in the Hall of Fame.
But his chances for induction will improve slightly this year because I’m abstaining from the voting for the first time, and won’t submit a ballot. The same is true for Curt Schilling, and Tim Raines, and at least two others who I think should be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
To repeat: I think Mussina, Schilling and Raines and others are Hall of Famers, but it’s better for their candidacy if I don’t cast a ballot.
If that sounds backward, well, that’s how the Hall of Fame voting has evolved, squeezed between rules that badly need to be updated and the progression of the candidates linked to the use of performance-enhancing drugs. The process needs to be pruned to allow voters to get back to answering a simple question about each candidate: Was his career worthy of the Hall of Fame?
How novel. It's almost like, let's just put the best players in the hall (allowing for disagreement re: steroid users; that's not even why I'm posting this, even though Olney agrees with me), instead of making some guys wait because fuck you I'm a self-important sportswriter, or not voting for guys like Rickey Henderson on the first ballot because no one's ever been unanimous, or whatever. Christ. Baseball writers are the worst people on earth (besides NFL-only fanboys).
When I started covering Major League Baseball, getting the opportunity to participate in the Hall of Fame voting was something to really look forward to, a nice carrot through the long days of spring training, the travel delays of the summer and extra-inning games.
So it's incredible that declining to cast a ballot is even a consideration. But in light of where we are, it seems like the right thing to do for the candidates involved, until the rules are adjusted.
For years, the rule that each writer can vote for no more than 10 candidates was probably irrelevant; it certainly was for me, given that I usually voted for anywhere from four to seven players. It's not clear why the "Rule of 10" was put in place, but I suspect it was originally designed to prevent writers from flooding their ballots with names of players who had no chance of being elected, just so they could report to their buddy that they had voted for them.
Christ. Baseball writers are the worst people on earth (besides NFL-only fanboys).
A decade ago, nobody could have anticipated the quandary that has developed because of this rule, and because of the debate surrounding the steroid-era candidates.
Mark McGwire first appeared on the ballot in December 2006, five years after he retired, and he became the first real test case for what the voters would do with players either directly linked with performance-enhancing drugs or suspected of doing them.
As written in this space many times, I think all players should be judged within the context of the era in which they played,
The idea of retroactive morality is ridiculous,
McGwire was a star during that time, with 583 homers, including his record-setting 70 homers in 1998, so I voted for him. That was a minority opinion, for sure: 23.5 percent of the 545 voters cast ballots for him, far short of the 75 percent needed for induction, but more than the 5 percent required to remain on the ballot. The McGwire test case continued, however, because his candidacy carried over to the next ballot, and so did that of Rafael Palmeiro and others, until they became stacked up like planes on a runway, their Hall of Fame situation stuck in a weird sort of purgatory.
This is how the rule that limits writers to 10 players became a serious problem. Roger Clemens became eligible, and Barry Bonds. Jeff Bagwell and Mike Piazza also hit the ballot, and while there is no indisputable evidence of steroid use by those two as there is for Palmeiro, who was suspended in 2005 after a positive test, a high number of voters apparently withheld votes for them because of suspicion of PED use. The career numbers for Bagwell and Piazza are overwhelmingly worthy for Hall of Fame election, but Bagwell has never finished higher than 59.6 percent in his four years on the ballot; Piazza, the all-time leader in homers for catchers, got only 57.8 percent of the vote in his first year.
If McGwire, Palmeiro and Sosa never make it, that's fine with me. Bonds I will be more upset about, although it'll be annoying. But fucking fuck, if Bagwell and Piazza never make it, I'm going to go to Cooperstown just to take a piss on that building. Christ. Baseball writers are the worst people on earth (besides NFL-only fanboys).
So the list of serious candidates grew well beyond 10 spots. Last year I counted 17 players I thought were Hall of Fame-worthy, from Greg Maddux to Tom Glavine to Craig Biggio. But because of the Rule of 10, I had to leave off seven players who I believe are of Hall of Fame caliber. That included Mussina, Schilling and Raines. For the first time since McGwire became eligible, I didn't cast a vote for him.
The way I picked among the 17 was to rank them in order among the first nine, from the best player on down, regardless of the PED question. I also included Jack Morris, who was in his last year of eligibility; I wanted to give Morris a fair last shot with my ballot, knowing that Mussina, Raines, Schilling and Jeff Kent probably would get enough votes to stay on the ballot for this winter.
Morris got his fair shot during his mediocre career, and during the previous 14 years. But whatever. This is all mostly reasonable.
But really, that didn't seem right, because there's nothing in the voting rules that suggest I should weigh the candidates against each other, or must consider the landscape of the ballot. There is no guidance for picking 10 players from a 17-man field of worthy candidates. There is only this:
"Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played."
That's actually more complex than I thought it was. That's a lot of criteria. You could elect Jeter based on any one of them! Especially integrity, or something!
The practical reality was that I wasn't deciding on whether to vote for Mussina based on career performance. My vote was predicated entirely on his standing among an extraordinary volume of candidates, from Maddux to Glavine to Bonds to Piazza to Frank Thomas. (Let's again dismiss the notion that the "character" was ever used by writers as a serious criterion for election before McGwire's name appeared on the 2007 ballot. We all know the stories about some of the racists, alleged cheats, drunkards and PED users who already are in the Hall of Fame.)
If that commenter from last week who made the slavery argument wants to come back and discuss that analogy further, I encourage him/her to do so.
And while I think Schilling and Mussina are Hall of Fame-worthy, my ballot hurt them. My ballot counted against their percentage. Five hundred seventy-one voters cast ballots last year, and my ballot was among the 450 that didn't have Mussina included, which lowered his percentage.
That makes no sense.
The Rule of 10 seemed to factor heavily in the voting last year, dragging down the vote percentages for everyone from Morris to Clemens to Alan Trammell, whose numbers plummeted from 33.6 percent of the vote to just 20.6 percent. Clearly Trammell wasn't being judged based on his career; he lost votes last winter because of the choices made under the Rule of 10.
Maddux was a slam-dunk candidate after posting 355 career wins and four Cy Young Awards,
I'm sure he did, as well as the "we can't vote anyone in unanimously because DURRRR" problem.
During the summer, the Hall of Fame adjusted some of its rules. Voters are now required to register to receive a ballot, writers can lose the right to vote,
Surprisingly, however, the Rule of 10 was not altered. The same impossible math remains: I'm counting 15 worthy candidates right now for those 10 spots. Other writers are telling me they see anywhere from 12 to 20 worthy candidates, which means that in their eyes, they'll be leaving players they feel are Hall of Fame-worthy off their ballots. It means that as great as Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez were -- both should be unanimous, in light of their accomplishments -- they might lose votes as writers struggle with the question of how to deal with the ballot guideline that seems completely arbitrary. (Why not a ballot limit of 11? Why not 12? Why not eight? Why not six? Is it 10 only because it's a round number?)
Maybe I should've figured it out last year, but this puzzle cannot be solved. There's no way to judge each candidate strictly on his merits given the current ballot limitations, no fair way to vote.
I can't stand the protest ballots we've seen in the past, when someone signs a blank ballot that counts as a vote against all candidates. That's unfair.
You lost me there. Please revisit that sentence, and figure out where backne fits in.
And I can't stand the idea of casting a ballot that works against players that I think should be inducted, such as Mussina, Schilling or others. So as much as it has been an honor in the past to participate in the voting, I'll abstain, and hope that in the future the rules change.
Thursday, December 4, 2014
BONDS DREAMS ON AS SUPPORT SLIPS SLIDING AWAY
By Murray Chass
Hear ye! hear ye! hear ye!
Who makes such a proclamation?
In a typically arrogant and self-serving interview with an MLB.com reporter who has long been a Bonds sycophant, Bonds said:
“I love Major League Baseball. I always have and I loved playing the game. I don’t have any doubts that I’ll get there in time. I’m bothered about it, but I don’t sit here going, ‘I’m not going to make it.’ I don’t see how it stays the way it’s going. In my mind, in my head, I’m a lot more positive about it than I am negative. I think eventually they’ll do the right thing.”
And he said:
“I deserve to be there. Clemens deserves to be there. The guys that are supposed to be there are supposed to be there. Period. I don’t even know how to say it. We are Hall of Famers. Why are we having these conversations about it? Why are we talking about a baseball era that has come and gone?
“Era, era, era. Do the best players in the game deserve to be in the Hall of Fame? Yes. Everything that everyone has accomplished in baseball is in that book. Correct? So if that’s correct, then we need to be in there. End of story.”
Bonds referred to the baseball record book, not the excellent 2006 book “Game of Shadows” that tells you all you need to know about Bonds and performance-enhancing drugs.
But Bonds indeed is in the record book – for having hit the most home runs in a single season (73) and for having hit the most home runs in a career (762). He is there, on page 19 of The Elias Book of Baseball Records, because Major League Baseball has not amended his achievements.
Seymour Siwoff, decades-long head of Elias Sports Bureau, explained why Bonds is there.
“He wasn’t accused of anything,” Siwoff said in a telephone interview Saturday, then referring specifically to the 73 home runs Bonds hit in 2001 added, “When he did it, he wasn’t guilty of anything we knew of so he was put in. It was the record. I couldn’t dispute it.”
In retrospect, Siwoff said, “We know it’s a fraud. He never hit more than 49 home runs and he suddenly hits 73.”
As for Bonds’ linking the record book and the Hall of Fame, Siwoff said, “The book has no bearing on the Hall of Fame.”
Bonds is not in the Hall of Fame because in the two years he has been on the ballot, the voters – members of the Baseball Writers Association –
Voting individually but collectively coming to the same conclusion, they have done that because they believe Bonds achieved his record numbers with the aid of performance-enhancing drugs.
They have also come to many other conclusions, like the idea that Jim Rice was a HOFer and Alan Trammell was not. So. Yeah.
Like Bonds, Sosa eluded detection, but is any more circumstantial evidence needed? Convicts have been executed on less.
In an interview a couple of years before the recent one, the same reporter, Barry Bloom, quoted Bonds as saying about the Hall of Fame:
“You have to vote on baseball the way baseball needs to be voted on. If you vote on your assumptions or what you believe or what you think might have been going on there, that’s your problem. You’re at fault. It has nothing to do with what your opinion is. Period.
“If that’s the case, you better go way, way back and start thinking about your opinions. If that’s how you feel life should be run, I would say then you run your Hall of Fame the way you want to run your Hall of Fame. That’s what I think. That’s my personal opinion. If you want to do the Hall of Fame the way the Hall of Fame is supposed to be done, then you make the right decision on that. If you don’t, that’s on you. To stamp something on your assumptions, it doesn’t work for me.”
Bonds, I believe, uttered that mouthful before the voters judged him for the first time.
The history of Hall of Fame voting shows that when players of star status appear for the first time, others on the ballot suffer. There’s no sensible logic to that because with 10 spots on the ballot, voters can vote for the super first-timers and still vote for others.
However, the ballot presence of Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine did not affect Bonds. If any of the writers wanted to ignore the PED allegations and put an X next to his name, they would have done it.
It is always possible that something could happen that would catapult Bonds into the Hall of Fame, but he shouldn’t hold his breath. The voters generally have demonstrated their unwillingness to elect tainted players, and a huge bloc of them would have to change their stance.
The Hall’s board of directors has made Bonds’ task more difficult with a change in rules of eligibility that also applies to other candidates. Players will no longer be eligible for 15 years; the board has cut that period to 10 years.
That change leaves Bonds with 8 years of eligibility instead of 13, a significantly shorter period in which lightning could strike on Bonds’ behalf.
The Hall’s board also knows that players already in the Hall object to being joined by players whose credentials includes PEDs.
This far into the candidacy of PED players the Hall of Famers need have no fear of bad guys being elected. The decline in Bonds’ percentage of votes fits the pattern of voting for the most seriously challenged PED candidates. Their percentages have continued to drop, moving farther away from the 75 percent needed.
Three other players on the ballot have resumes that are foggier than these five.
I voted for Bagwell on his first appearance on the ballot, when he received 41.7 percent of the votes. After several people told me that he had been heavily involved in steroids,
Biggio will almost certainly be elected this time. He was only two votes short of election in the last election and should clear the threshold, even though a reporter friend told me that a dozen or more players told him that Biggio used steroids.
If it’s not clear by now, I don’t vote for steroids-tainted players.
That brings me to Piazza. Piazza has been on the ballot for two years and avoided the falloff problem in his second year.
His many fans have excoriated me for my view, but they are blind to what I believe is strong evidence of his use. When he played for the New York Mets, he didn’t hide his acne-covered back.
When I first wrote about Piazza’s possible use several years ago, his fans ridiculed me. They completely ignored a critical aspect of what I wrote. Piazza’s back cleared up completely when baseball began testing for steroids and remained clear to his retirement. It was not a stretch to conclude that Piazza had stopped using steroids to avoid being caught by a urine test.
Also, this next part is fun because it's the end of the article. This is it. Just a non-conclusory sentence, a chart, and blogger Murray Chass is done. Time to go yell at the kids who are playing near his lawn, and then settle down with a nice warm glass of tomato juice.
Percentage of votes in Hall of Fame elections for players who have been linked to steroids use, some more specifically than others:
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Come on, sportswriters of America! They just released the ballot, so the time to get your moralizing and self-important posturing in is NOW! NOW NOW NOW! Talk about how Mike Piazza supposedly had back acne, or how Jeff Bagwell "was just a little too strong for it to have been only weightlifting, if you get my drift," or how Barry Bonds stabbed baseball to death with a screwdriver and danced on its grave. Alas, I looked for a while and came up with nothing. Give it a couple of weeks I guess. Instead, who's up for some Bill? His picks column from last week is all I've got, because I refuse to watch his dipshittery unfold on TV, and he's not writing anything else right now because he's too busy playing with the Trade Machine ZOMG TRADE MACHINE NERDGASM NERDBONER.
Gambling update: Gotta hand it to him; he's 18-11 since I last updated. That puts him at 54-50 on the season, which is basically the break even point. Good for him. Meanwhile, Year of the Dog? How could it NOT be Year of the Dog when they went 15-14 these past two weeks, leaving them at 84-88 on the season. It's almost too easy! THANKS FOR THE FREE MONEY, VEGAS!
Anyways, here are some LOWlights (lol) from his week 12 picks. Someone should punch this man in the throat, yes, but let's not ignore His Readers (tm). Most of them need a good throat-punchin' too.
Q: I have a six year old son. He is basically like a boney ball of energy that just wants to wrestle, run, jump, and climb everywhere and all the time. As a dad, it’s fun to horse around and let him win like a WWE style match. He loves it. But sometimes he gets a bit out of control and I need to pull him off a bookshelf or off my back. For everyone’s safety. He always has the same stunned reaction, like “How did you do that? You must be the strongest man in the world!” Watching the Pats game and Gronk’s ridiculous man handling of the Colts it reminded me of well, me as a dad. Gronk looks like he is just playing with a bunch of little kids. Its all fun and games, until he gets pissed and decides to toss defenders around like a dad that just took much crap. You’ve got a boy, ever go ‘Gronk ‘on him?
—Jim, Wharton, NJ
Here’s how much I love Rob Gronkowski: I haven’t written a full-fledged Gronk column because I can’t risk putting the Simmons Stink on him, seeing him suffer another dumb injury because yet another safety cowardly took out his legs when Gronk wasn’t looking,
—Patrick, Rhode Island
BS: And you didn’t even mention this wrinkle — in a 30-year span from 1956 (when the award was created) through 1986, only 17 QBs won the MVP.
Q: After watching Gronk’s
—Sam and Noam, Brooklyn
BS: You nailed the current LeBronk Mount Rushmore
—Alex MG, NYC
BS: Yes! Yes! Yes! This is a GREAT mailbag question.
Why I picked against the Chiefs (via Instagram): “Trap Game + 8 Straight KC Covers + We’re Overdue for An Andy Reid Game.” I think that makes me Nostrasimmdus! Never change, Andy Reid. Never change.
—Dave, Rogersville, MO
BS: And … there’s your problem with the Chiefs. You can’t be one-dimensional for four straight playoff rounds. It’s never worked.
—Steve D, Philadelphia
BS: I’d jump on that Eagles +170 bet.
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
As a commenter on my last post pointed out, apparently Zach Lowe has always been the kind of dope who is interested in teams' logos and court designs, which is unfortunate. However, notwithstanding that, apparently he's got a pretty good head on his shoulders. This is most definitely a good read. I mean, if you're not a mouth-breathing moron, you know this country's level of discourse about sports, particularly individual players' legacies, has basically been reduced to bunch of turds screaming at each other on TV, full of sound and fury and lacking any substance. (Thanks, Mark Shapiro!) But it feels good to see a very sensible article like this published on ESPN.
Narratives are fun, and interesting. They can get at larger truths, and they reflect the way that we, as fans and media, think and talk about basketball. There is value in just analyzing that — in digging into media discussions and fan behavior. The zoomed-out examination of basketball, and of positions, at FreeDarko changed the way a lot of us think about the game — for the better. Shining a light on some of the team-level “narratives” — the notion that a jump-shooting team can’t win it all, for instance — can reveal deeper truths about the game, even if anyone paying token attention already knew the basic conclusion.
Some narratives are also, frankly, dumb. The word “narrative” can act as a synonym for “line of thought that exists somewhere in the world, and is demonstrably false.” We use an awful lot of brain space addressing and rebutting “narratives” that probably don’t merit all that much attention, save for the fact that they bring clicks. The “LeBron isn’t clutch” narrative after the 2011 Finals was ridiculous, given his past buzzer-beaters, overtime baskets, insane streaks of consecutive points, and other playoff heroics. It was accurate to say that LeBron quaked under the pressure of his first Finals appearance with villainous Miami, but that’s very different — and less catchy — than just branding him a crunch-time failure.
The notion that Dirk Nowitzki was “soft” gained some traction after the 2006 Finals and the Mavericks’ subsequent flameouts, and it died only after Nowitzki triumphed in those 2011 Finals against the Heat. Nowitzki was never soft. He wasn’t even a much different player in 2011 than the one he had been in 2006 and 2007, when Golden State’s “We Believe” team pulled off an all-time upset over Dallas. He was more experienced, smarter, better at posting up the Stephen Jackson types who gave him fits in prior seasons.
But he hadn’t discovered some inner fortitude that allowed him to succeed in 2011 where he had failed before. Nowitzki before snuffing the Heat was, by almost any measure, one of the greatest postseason performers and clutch shooters in league history. He hit monster shots in monster moments every season, including in the last minutes of close games in those 2006 Finals, when Udonis Haslem frustrated him into some unusually bad shooting nights. Even then, Nowitzki was taking and making clutch baskets. They are on record. They exist. You can watch a lot of them online, for free.
Things changed at the end of Game 5 of last season’s Clippers-Thunder playoff series. Chris Paul made three critical mistakes in the final 45 seconds of an improbable Thunder rally, and Oklahoma City wrapped the series in the next game. The Clippers were vanquished again.
You began hearing it, and reading it, all over the place: Nine seasons in, Chris Paul, the alleged Point God, had yet to appear in the conference finals. It has been no different in this corner of the Internet. Andrew Sharp wrote incisively about how Paul’s future playoff fate, and all the variables that will go into it, would determine the way we remember and talk about Paul. As I stood backstage during the taping of the first Grantland Basketball Hour, attempting not to crap my pants at the thought of appearing on national TV between Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose (and Jalen’s bat), I listened intently as Simmons asked Jeff Van Gundy about Paul’s conference finals shutout: “What does it mean?”
I kind of wanted to rush the stage.
Monday, November 10, 2014
First, your Bill NFL gambling update. He went 7-6 last week, a nice big healthy step up from the 4-11 mark he posted the previous week. MNF is still in progress, but Bill took the Eagles and I'll give him that (currently 31-7 in the 2nd quarter). Thus he has gone 7-6 again this week, meaning that if you had shadowed him for the last 3 weeks (since returning from his suspension) and put $10 on every game, you'd only be down about $60. Meanwhile, Year of the Dog (tm)? You bet your swollen nutsack it is. Dogs went 7-6 last week, and assuming the Eagles hold on and cover, will go 3-10 this week. That brings them to 69-74 on the season so far. Year of the Dog. WHO SAYS NO?
Anyways, when we last left Bill, he was explaining why he considers certain NBA teams fun to watch and others not fun to watch. This kind of thought exercise is only carried out by people who don't actually like sports, and need to find a way to categorize and rank everything in order to have fun while watching the games which they're only watching while waiting for gossipy non-news things to happen. (A compulsive need to constantly make up or predict gambling lines is a classic symptom also present in this kind of fuckhead.) But just wait until you see the hotness of some of the hot takes he drops in this second half of his watchability rankings. I'm not including the actual rankings/point scores he and Lowe assigned to the teams, because that's stuff only idiots would care about, but just know that the commentary goes in ascending order from "mediocre to watch" to "OMG SO FUN TO WATCH BECAUSE THINK ABOUT THE CELEBS WHO WILL BE SITTING COURTSIDE." We start with the Rockets, who are a fun team to watch for a lot of reasons, one of which is that they employ one of the game's best shot blockers/defenders/rebounders.
Simmons: I don’t enjoy watching Dwight Howard play basketball. It’s that simple.
Friday, October 31, 2014
I'm sure you came to this blog today to read something that might make your day better. Probably you came to read Larry's latest takedown of Simmons, and that seems to do the trick for some people. But I doubt many of you came here with the intent to make your day worse. I apologize in advance, then, since this post drags up stuff that you had hopefully repressed by now, stuff that hasn't been in the news for a month now, stuff you didn't even want to think about back when it was news. I'm talking about the ridiculous end-of-year Jeter adulation. Yes, it was terrible, and if you watched even a few minutes of sports tv or read any sports websites in the month of September, you were subject to a cacophonous cavalcade of catastrophic commendation.
Hopefully we never hear from Jeter again, and he fades into the sunset until he is eventually elected into the Hall of Fame and we have to do another Jeter Month, which is something I'm looking forward to about as much as a car crash. But it will have to be done, because everyone loves the steely-eyed shortstop so much that their brains turn to mush and they start spewing folderol.
Let's start with Jayson Stark: Ten Astounding Jeter Numbers
3,461. This, of course, is Derek Jeter’s hit total. And holy, schmoly, that’s a lot of hits. Heck, it’s more than Hank Greenberg and Shoeless Joe Jacksoncombined (3,400)
Way to cherry-pick the guy who gave up his age-30 to age-34 seasons to serve in World War II, as well as a guy whose career was ended partially because baseball needed a scapegoat. Actually Hank Greenberg, in about half as many seasons, won two MVPs to Jeter's zero. But that's giving the Hebrew Hammer some credit for doing things like hitting home runs, which is unfair because Jeter can't do it. How about the fact that Shoeless Joe, in about half as many full seasons, led his league in hits as many times as Jeter? Both of these guys were better baseball players than Derek Jeter.
2,673. Here’s another super-cool number. It’s the number of games Jeter has played at shortstop. And it's not only more games than Ernie Banks and Robin Yount played at short put together, but also the most games by any man in history who played one defensive position and never played anywhere else -- not even in the 19th inning, for one batter. Pete Rose played six positions. Ty Cobb played seven. Stan Musial played five (including pitcher). And Derek Jeter played one position. And only one. Now that’s how it ought to be done.
This is a great number... to prove how much Jeter is a jerk. In fact, Mr. Stark's conclusion here is totally wrong. This is NOT how it should be done. Frankly, when your team acquires acquires younger and better shortstop, you should move to third base, especially when he's actually better at fielding than you are.
And besides that, the worst part about this paragraph is that Stark cites these other greats as examples of what not to do... Rose, Musial and Cobb shifted positions so they could help their teams put the best nine guys on the field. Jeter wouldn't even take a few steps to his right. Not once, not even in the 19th inning for one batter.
It's a disgrace that Jayson Stark is so eager to praise Jeter that he cites this stat as an example of Jeter's personal amazingness, as though it had nothing to do with his team. As though Derek Jeter personally had the courage and fortitude to only play shortstop for his whole career, while those other Hall of Famers were too weak to do so, or that Jeter was so astoundingly amazing the Yankees had no choice but to ever play him at shortstop for his whole career, even when they paid a quarter of a billion dollars to acquire a better one.
Heck, you might even argue that playing multiple positions at a big-league level actually makes you a better all-around ballplayer. In my whole life I've never heard anyone equate playing more positions with being a worse player.
1. Finally, there’s this astounding number. According to Elias, it’s the number of games Jeter has played, in his entire career, in which his team, the mighty Yankees, was mathematically eliminated from some sort of race for some sort of trip to the postseason. One meaningless game in 20 seasons? Whoa. On one hand, it would be nuts to argue that was all Derek Jeter’s doing.
So then don't. You have the chance here to NOT do that, but now you're going to go ahead and do that. Terrible work here, Mr. Stark
On the other hand, what defines his career better than that? A man who lived for the big game -- and played nothing but big games. For 20 years. What better way to put a frame around the career of one of the greatest shortstops who ever turned a 4-6-3?
I agree - a guy who consistently played for a really amazing team, a team with 20 straight years of consistently above-average to amazing baseball, and who benefitted, perhaps more than any player in history, from being a long-lasting above-average player who also happened to be surrounded by above-average players. Has there been any other player who has benefitted as much as Jeter has from being on consistently good teams?
Enough from Jayson Stark. Here's a bit from Andrew, a guy who I think once actually posted something on this site. He pointed me to a bit from Colin Cowherd on the radio: "Jeter was a .300 hitter, but he hit .350 every time he was in the world series . You don't see that with other players in other sports.Jordan didn't score more in the playoffs"
Andrew points out that Jordan's career ppg is 30.1, and his playoff ppg is 33.4.
It's also worth noting that Jeter did not in fact his .350 every time he was in the World Series. In fact, his career World Series average is only 12 points higher than his regular reason average, and that his career ALCS average is 53 points lower. It's also worth noting that one of Jeter's worst World Series performance overall was his only seven-game World Series (2001).where he hit .118 and did not walk. But I guess he did hit a clutch home run. But you'd think if he were so clutch, he might have helped his team a little more in that series.
And just because I'm a glutton for punishment, I even went to MLB.com and found an article by somebody named Tim Healey that could not have had a more inaccurate title, even if it were titled "South Wins Civil War" or "Larry B Ascends Stairs to Parents' Kitchen". It's called "10 Jeter stats that demonstrate his dominance". An accurate title would be: 10 Jeter stats that demonstrate his team's dominance" or "10 Jeter stats that demonstrate his longevity" or "10 Jeter stats that demonstrate his PR team's dominance"
1. Winning percentage: .593 Jeter is the leader in personal winning percentage (minimum of 1,000 games) among active players, his career record of 1,626-1,116 producing that .593 mark.
Ow ow ow ow this hurts my brain so much. My brains are leaking out my ears.Someday I will understand why people care that Jeter is the leader in personal winning percentage, like he was playing tennis or something. Are we going to add "wins" to the stat column for position players, too?
3. Two hundred-hit seasons: 8. Gehrig is the only other Yankee to collect 200 hits in a single campaign that many times. If you want to use consecutive seasons as a tiebreaker, Jeter twice had streaks of three straight seasons with 200-plus hits, while Gehrig only did that once. (Gehrig fell two 1933 hits shy of a five-season streak.)
Fine, I know that hits is Jeter's marquee stat. And eight 200-his seasons is really good. But the ridiculous thing is that Tim Healey is going to great lengths to show how, in this comparison, Jeter is better than Lou Gehrig, without bothering to mention that Lou Gehrig's chance at a second such streak in 1938 was cut short by the unfortunate and unlucky fact that Gehrig was CRIPPLED BY A TERRIBLE AND DEBILITATING NEUROMUSCULAR DISEASE. (Aside Try saying that last sentence in your best Norm voice, like this clip). If Larrupin' Lou had been as good as Jeter he wouldn't have let that happen.
Oh, and that Gehrig would have almost certainly had a five-season streak if he had the benefits of Jeter's era, because Lou was playing in a 154-game season. Duh.
News flash to Tim Healey: if you've found a stat that proves that Jeter is better than Lou Gehrig, you're using the wrong stat. Unless you want to use longevity stats to show how much better Jeter was, in which case you're being a total asshole to a guy who might have been given a bad break, but who by all accounts was a much better human being than Jeter was.
7. Parting gifts: 18
Obviously this is a terrible article, and obviously it is the worst thing I've ever read about baseball, but this is even worse than that. Somehow this stat demonstrates Jeter's dominance?
Jeter's early retirement announcement was a savvy PR move. It's the classic getting ahead of the story move, so he could control the narrative, and thus nearly all of the stories were about his historic career, and not his below-average season, which may have contributed to the Yankees' missing the playoffs. And it meant that eighteen teams oughta be ashamed of themselves for puckering up to Jeter and giving expensive presents to a multimillionaire.
I can't even finish this article because it, somehow, actually goes downhill from there.
It's ten AM and I'm all set for a terrible day. Hope I've made yours worse.